Law Enforcement: With Justice For All…Balancing Truth & Love

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 This could be one of the harder things which I have written—putting in a nutshell the depth of our frustration with the circumstances surrounding the investigation of two senseless deaths.

This morning I read once more about what Mary said to Jesus after her brother Lazarus had died, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Later, we find out that, “Jesus wept.” And I was reading this in the context of verses about prayer: “And everything you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive,” said Jesus.

The reality is that (until Jesus comes back again) we humans will all die a physical death. Robin Williams has died recently, as has Lauren Bacall. Due to a great variety of reasons, we will all die. And, despite nothing being impossible for God, most of us are not likely to be raised from the dead until The Last Day.

I know that. I accept that. But, what is excruciatingly hard for me to understand and accept is the fact that there are so many factors that are involved in the potentially-preventable deaths of AnnaLeah and Mary—so many, in fact, that it is all too easy for no one to bear the responsibility.

I have written a post entitled, “Our Crash Was Not An Accident,” in which I spell out many of those factors: http://annaleahmary.com/2014/07/our-crash-was-not-an-accident/

In addition to the many “truck safety” issues which I have written about before—including underride guards, driver fatigue, and minimum liability insurance (which, of course, is not about safety but about adequately providing for the needs of crash victims after the fact)—I want to address two other issues.

They are law enforcement and CDLs. Both of them are huge topics, so I will concentrate on law enforcement now and leave CDLs for another time.

Not being sure that enforcement was the best choice of words, I looked up the definition and found that it indeed provides an apt description of that activity about which I wish to speak:

Law enforcement broadly refers to any system by which some members of society act in an organized manner to enforce the law by discovering, deterring, rehabilitating persons who violate the rules and norms governing that society. Although the term may encompass entities such as courts and prisons, it is most frequently applied to those who directly engage in patrols or surveillance to dissuade and discover criminal activity, and those who investigate crimes and apprehend offenders.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_enforcement

Basically, on top of the loss of Mary and AnnaLeah, we have had our pain amplified by what has seemed to be a superficial handling of the circumstances of their deaths by law enforcement officials—in effect, making too light of it. Sure, we could have a distorted perception which might appear bitter;  I admit that my anger might sometimes sway my analysis. But our reaction has been confirmed by others who have viewed it from a more objective position.

Let me try to summarize it here—a very difficult task:

  • The Crash Reconstruction Report, which we received seven months after the crash, was, according to our attorney, very disappointing and inadequate. Questions About Justice in the State of Georgia
  • Although the case is still pending, from what we have been told, the truck driver is likely to get by with a relatively light sentence based upon two counts of Homicide by Vehicle, Second Degree (a misdemeanor).  Re-examine the Definition of Reckless Driving 2  According to the DA’s office, he is not likely to get jail time.
  • Despite any improvement in trucking regulations such as Hours of Service (to combat the problem of driver fatigue) and Medical Cards, these regulations are worthless if the investigating officers do not get to the bottom of these issues in a particular crash.  Questions About Justice in the State of Georgia
  • Not all truck crashes are primarily caused by the truck driver (although what testimony do we hear from the dead car driver?), but when they are, and the investigation does not thoroughly uncover what led to the crash, what kind of a deterrent will a light sentence provide to that driver or other drivers?
  • Particularly in the case of driver fatigue. . . Re-examine the Definition of Reckless Driving 2
  • Calling it an Accident removes Accountability.

So who is taking responsibility for this crash  and its investigation (and thousands more like it every year)? How will this ever be addressed adequately to end this senseless slaughter of innocent victims in potentially preventable crashes?

When will everyone stop looking the other way–“doing the GM nod” of inertia and incompetence–letting someone else (i.e., nobody) shoulder the blame?

And this is only one “small” part of a huge mess of truck safety issues. When will we figure out that the widespread problem of truck safety (i.e., deaths and horrific injuries caused in crashes with trucks) is multifaceted and that a fragmented attack/approach to solving this disaster is never going to be very effective when everyone involved can point the finger of blame at someone else. . .and, sometimes, the scapegoat of a truck driver will get a slap on their wrist?

Over the course of the year following the crash, we have made many phone calls and sent many emails and letters. We have gotten very little in the way of answers to satisfy our need to understand what happened and to convince us that justice will be carried out.

And what is justice—morally right and fair—in this case? Does it mean looking the other way because he “didn’t mean to do it”? Does it mean showing him mercy and forgetting about it to the extent of meting out little or no consequences? Does it mean giving him a slap on the wrist because “there but for the grace of God go I”? These are hard questions.

We want to know the truth. Love for our daughters and for all travelers on the road—and for the truck drivers as well—drives our quest. The truth is said to set us free. Will the truth enable us, as a country, to free ourselves from injustice and from foolishly ignoring the problems? Unless we face the truth, we will continue to allow senseless, potentially-preventable crashes to rob us of loved ones.

With a potential trial date coming up the week of September 8,  I again attempted to get some answers and, earlier this week, wrote to the new Commanding Officer of the Georgia State Patrol. This was my closing plea:

“If this crash had killed your two children, Taylor and Logan, I wonder whether you would be satisfied with an investigation like the one which we have experienced with our crash.”

Please pray that our relentless demand for answers will ultimately lead to meaningful and enduring change.

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May 8, 2014 from Kathryn

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